Evaluating Public Schools

This section provides tools to aid in finding the best public school option for your child. Compare private and public schools, explore school zoning issues, and delve into the public school grading and ranking system. Find information on the safest schools and what they are doing right.
View the most popular articles in Evaluating Public Schools:
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10 Advantages to Public Education
Public schools are far from perfect, but they still offer significant benefits to the students that attend their classrooms every day. We’ll list a few of those advantages here.
Public education has gotten a bit of a bad rap in recent decades, as many families are exploring other education options, like homeschooling, private schools and charter schools. However, public schools still serve a significant role in preparing the next generation of world leaders. Check out these 10 potential advantages a public school education can provide.
 
Cost
 
The cost of a public education can’t be beat. Although some parents might complain about the recently added expenses of supplies and participation in sports teams, these schools are still much more budget-friendly than their private counterparts. According to GreatSchools.org, the average tuition for private schools in the United States during the 2008-2009 school years was $10,841. The average cost for a boarding school during that same year was $23,448. Schools affiliated with the National Association of Independent Schools charged even more.
 
This video looks at the advantages of public school.
 
 
In addition, private schools get additional funding through private donations. In many cases, this could mean parents of students at the schools may have to invest time and money in fundraising events for the school throughout the year. While public schools also participate in fund raisers, the bulk of their funding still comes from federal, state and local government sources.
 
Availability
 
Public schools provide access to an education for every child in a community. The Huffington Post notes that by law, public schools cannot turn students away based on academic performance, income level or disability. This ensures
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No Consistency in Charter School Quality, New Study Finds
We examine the new CREDO study, which finds charter schools are not necessarily outperforming traditional public schools on the national level. Also, concern has been raised from this study over significant inconsistencies in charter school quality from school to school.
A new study shows that while charter schools are making significant gains in their performance, they are not exceeding public schools in most areas of the country. In addition, the study found vast variations in the quality of public school throughout the nation, with charters in some states outperforming traditional schools and charters in other states falling sadly behind. As interest in charter schools continues to grow, many are looking at studies like this with interest to determine whether these non-traditional schools can pull their weight in the public school system.
 
Taking a Closer Look at Charter Schools
 
The Washington Post reports that the latest study was conducted by researchers at Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO). Researchers analyzed test data for schools in 26 states and the District of Columbia to compare performance of charter schools to that of traditional public schools. To obtain the most accurate comparisons, charter school students were compared directly to a “virtual twin” - a composite of seven students from a nearby school with similar demographics to the charter school student.
 
Like traditional public schools, public charter schools are funded with tax dollars. However, unlike traditional schools, charters do not have to follow the guidelines and curriculum standards required by the local school system. Most charters are not unionized and they are typically run by either parent organizations or more recently, by for-profit companies. Approximately 2.3 million students attend charter schools today, which accounts for approximately 4 percent of
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What is the Connection Between Home Values and School Performance?
Is there a real relationship between expensive houses and better public schools? A new report sheds light on the connection between property value and school quality.
Families often choose the location of their next home by where their children will go to school. As focus on school performance has become more astute thanks to a rising emphasis on test scores and completion rates, home shoppers have become more cautious in their selections as well. Do schools directly affect home values in a neighborhood? The answer may depend on where you are shopping for your next home.
 
Home Values and School Spending
 
According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, there is a definite correlation between school expenditures and home values in any given neighborhood. A report titled, “Using Market Valuation to Assess Public School Spending,” found that for every dollar spent on public schools in a community, home values increased $20. These findings indicate that additional school expenditures may benefit everyone in the community, whether or not those residents actually have children in the local public school system.
 
While the findings of this national study are compelling, they do not paint a full picture of the link between school spending and home values. According to the website, some school districts may operate more efficiently, so while expenditures are lower, the quality of education is still high. In addition, the size of the district or proximity of schools from neighboring districts could impact the perception of a specific school’s value, beyond the simple expenditure formula.
 
Researchers that published the report also found that wealthy school districts, where home values may tend to be higher, spend their funding more efficiently.
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Directory of Foreign Language Immersion Programs in U.S. Schools
We've put together this resource guide to help students and adults get the help they require to choose a good language immersion program.
We've put together this resource guide to help students and adults get the help they require to choose a good language immersion program.
 

Our directory of Foreign Language Immersion Programs lists the elementary and secondary schools around U.S. that have a curriculum to teach a second language. We have used categories like Complete Immersion, Partial Immersion and Two-way immersion programs to prepare the directory. This program is meant for students with English as their native language. It encourages bilingualism among students and works excellently towards developing progressive cognitive skills.

We have prepared this guide to help you find useful information about immersion programs. We have divided the resources in four groups to help you find exactly what you want.

General - Two way immersion programs - Partial Immersion programs - Complete Immersion programs

General Foreign Language Immersion Programs - This is one of the best comprehensive webpages to learn everything about language immersion programs. Prepared by a Director of Foreign Language Education Center for Applied Linguistics, this site has great information about the features and trends of immersion programs over the years. Benefits of Language Immersion - This website contains very useful information about academic, educational, economic and socio-cultural benefits of language immersion programs. Language Immersion and Language Study Abroad Programs - This website has an excellent list and information about schools/institutions offering total immersion programs in best destinations around the world. Centre for Applied Linguistics - This website explains various
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U.S. News Releases Latest Rankings of Public Schools
We report on the newest rankings by U.S. News that provide a snapshot into the success of various public schools across the country. Which school tops the list?
U.S. News has released its newest ranking of the top performing public high schools in the country. The rankings are compiled by the news publication annually to help students and parents discover the best high school choices in their states. Rankings are determined by a precise set of criteria that looks at student performance and college readiness. A special look is taken at how well a high school serves its least-advantaged students in these areas.
 
The Method behind the Research
 
To assess thousands of schools throughout the United States, U.S. News teams up with the American Institutes for Research. This DC-based organization is considered a foremost authority on behavioral and social sciences research across the globe. AIR is responsible for the new criteria utilized by U.S. News this year, which were based on the idea that top schools should effectively serve all the students in their population. This explains the specific examination of student performance by disadvantaged students at each school.
 
Researchers perused data from more than 21,000 high schools in 49 states and the District of Columbia. States had to provide adequate data and 12-grade enrollment to be included in the rankings. Nebraska did not submit sufficient data on the state’s high schools to be considered. Rankings were completed on a statewide and national basis, to provide the best framework for parents and students who use the rankings to choose the best local high school for their needs.
 
Criteria Used in Rankings
 
According to a report at U.S. News, the first
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We've put together this resource guide to help students and adults get the help they require to choose a good language immersion program.
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Evaluating Public Schools

School Zoning

Learn more about zoning rules, how they impact schools and your child. This section offers information on the history of school zones, what they are, and how they work. Get information on who decides school boundaries and the impact those decisions have on the community.

Getting Started

An overview of school designations, best practices for evaluating your options, and tips on choosing the best school for your child. Learn about Blue Ribbon, Vocational and Special Education schools. Get tips on finding the right school in a new neighborhood, city or state.

Grading and Ranking Schools

Explore the public school grading/ranking system, how it works and what it means. Get latest national rankings and read what critics of school grading have to say. Take a look at the nation’s top performing schools as ranked by U.S. News and Newsweek.

Public School Safety

A comprehensive look at the safety of US public schools. Learn what schools are doing to combat gangs and drugs, prepare for natural disasters, and protect your children from predators. From web cameras to armed guards, see what tools public schools are employing to keep kids safe.

Public vs. Private Schools

A comparison of public and private schools, the pros and cons of each, and a look at the cost of getting a stellar education at both. Take a look at some of the most expensive schools, notable public school alumni, and learn more about “private” public schools.